Smith on Sports: Preseason predictions don't matter

Sports Editor

Where does you favorite college football team rank in the preseason poll and do you care?

People can make all of the predictions they want this time of the year and claim every championship in the book, but that's not reality. Right now, it's just a bunch of talk.

It may be nice for fans to see their school name in the top 25 or get picked in the upper half of the conference standings. That’s all just for conversation sake.

Some college squads have just completed their second week of practice and all the players are focused on is getting better. It doesn’t matter to them where they are ranked nationally or picked in the conference standings. They are just working to get better every single day.

Count Mississippi State linebacker and former Starkville High School player Willie Gay Jr. as one of those.

The Bulldogs may be ranked 18th nationally in the coaches poll and picked third in the Southeastern Conference Western Division, but Gay said they are not noticing right now.

“We don’t pay too much attention to the rankings, but a goal for our team is to be one of the best in the country and definitely one of the best in the SEC,” Gay said during the school's on-campus media day Saturday.
The anticipation is building for MSU’s September 1 opener against Stephen F. Austin at Davis Wade Stadium.

Winning that game will be the No. 1 goal for head coach Joe Moorhead and his Bulldogs. That’s when they’ll start keeping score and that means only one thing to him.

“I’ve always said if they are keeping score, we want to be first,” Moorhead said. “I want to be first at the end of the season. We are competing against a standard in everything we do. I think on a weekly basis if we are improving, we are going to be a good football team. I’m happy we are 18th. I wish we were first. That ranking won’t matter when we tee it off on the 1st.”

The Bulldogs know who they are. They have the potential of being a very good and productive football team. How does that translate into number of wins this season? We’ll see.

With players like Nick Fitzgerald and Aeris Williams on offense, they have already been through plenty of wars for MSU. The same can be said for Jeffery Simmons and Montez Sweat on defense. Nothing is going to surprise these players.

Fitzgerald doesn’t care if people rank the Bulldogs first or last right now. His sights are set on a final goal.

“We’ve been ranked dead last in the (SEC) West, picked to win two games and we’ve been picked pretty high like where we are now,” Fitzgerald said. “We’re going to work hard no matter what and not really worried about what other people think and their rankings in the preseason. What really matters is what happens in the postseason. That’s what we’re worried about.”

Every team starts the season at 0-0 and until that first game is played, any projection for a bowl game or a final record is just an opinion and anything can happen.

Danny P. Smith is the sports editor and columnist for The Starkville Daily News. The opinions in this column are his and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SDN or its staff.